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FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act: National Ignition Facility, CMRR

Richard M. Jones
Number 12 - January 17, 2013  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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President Barack Obama has signed into law H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013.  This legislation provides policy and budget guidance for the Department of Defense and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).  It does not provide the actual funding, which is contained in the yet to be enacted FY 2013 Department of Defense Appropriations Bill. 

The conference report (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-112hrpt705/pdf/CRPT-112hrpt705.pdf) has language on the National Ignition Facility and the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility (CMRR). The report language briefly summarizes the respective positions of the House and Senate authorizing committees regarding a particular section of their bill and explains the final position each chamber’s conferees took in resolving the matter.  The “sec.” number refers to the actual bill text.

National Ignition Facility:

“Limitation on availability of funds for inertial confinement fusion ignition and high yield campaign

“The House bill contained a provision (sec. 3119) that would limit the obligation and expenditure of funds for fusion ignition research and experiments to not more than 50 percent until the Administrator for Nuclear Security certifies to the congressional defense committees that fusion ignition has been achieved at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) or the Administrator submits a report on fusion ignition.

“The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

“The House recedes [withdraws from its position.]

“The conferees are pleased that the National Nuclear Security Administration has submitted the report required in section 3119 of the House bill regarding a path forward for the NIF, including fusion ignition. The conferees believe that the NIF should continue to balance the goal of achieving ignition with other stockpile needs as part of the life extension programs as well as ongoing work for other agencies and offices in the Department of Energy.”

 

CMRR:

The conference report discussed the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Nuclear Facility and Uranium Processing Facility at three different points.  This facility would be used for the production of plutonium pits for nuclear weapons.

“Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility and Uranium Processing Facility

“The House bill contained a provision (sec. 1058) that would require an annual certification by the President whether the construction of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility and the Uranium Processing Facility will be completed not later than 2021 and whether both facilities will be fully operational by not later than 2024. The section would further require that if the President is not able to so certify, then no funds made available for fiscal year 2012 or any year thereafter may be available to reduce the non-deployed nuclear warheads of the United States until 120 days after the President is able to make the certification. The section would include an exception for reductions necessary to ensure the safety, security, reliability, and credibility of the nuclear weapons stockpile.

“The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

“The House recedes [withdraws from its position.]”

 

Execution of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement nuclear facility and limitation on alternate plutonium strategy

“The House bill contained a provision (sec. 2805) that would require the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), to request such funds in fiscal year 2014 and subsequent fiscal years under the military construction authority provided by section 2804 of the House bill to ensure the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) nuclear facility achieves full operational capability by 2024. Finally, this section would limit any funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or any other Act from being obligated or expended on any activities associated with a plutonium strategy for the NNSA that does not include achieving full operational capability of the CMRR nuclear facility by fiscal year 2024.

“The Senate amendment contained no similar provision.

“The House recedes [withdraws from its position.]

“The conferees note that sec. 3114 of the conference agreement [see below] would require the Secretary of Energy to carry out the CMRR project and limits funding from being obligated or expended on any activities associated with a plutonium strategy that does not include achieving full operational capability of the CMRR facility by 2026.”

 

Replacement project for Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building, Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico (sec. 3114)

“The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 3111) that would direct the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to construct a building to replace the functions of the existing Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building at Los Alamos National Laboratory associated with Department of Energy (DOE) Hazard Category 2 special nuclear material operations.

“The House bill contained no similar provision.

“The House recedes with an amendment [withdrawing from its position with a new agreement] that would authorize $70.0 million for restarting design and engineering of the replacement for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building, which was ‘deferred for at least 5 years’ in February 2012. The amendment requires that no funds shall be obligated or expended for a plutonium strategy that does not include achieving full operational capability of the replacement facility by December 31, 2026. The Nuclear Weapons Council has stated the replacement facility must be operational by 2028–2030. Furthermore, the amendment directs the Deputy Administrator for Naval Reactors to submit a report on the replacement project to the congressional defense committees not later than 18 months after the date of enactment of this Act analyzing the cost, benefits, and risks with respect to nuclear safety and recommendations on project structure, oversight model, and potential cost savings. Lastly, the amendment allows for the Secretary of Energy to incorporate such recommendations into the project as the Secretary considers appropriate.”

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
rjones@aip.org
301-209-3095